In the summer of 2007 Avalon Park & Preserve initiated its Outdoor Leadership and Environmental Stewardship Program. The brainchild of Avalon director Katharine Griffiths and school teachers Steve Gessler and Doug Elliot, this program was created in an attempt to get youngsters into the outdoors and connected to the environment in which they live. It is our goal that this program will offer students the opportunity to experience the outdoors in new ways and to instill a sense of curiosity, responsibility, leadership and ownership within their own community and the world community at large. We hope this program will serve as a stepping-stone to a lifetime of leadership and exploration.


There is a work component to this program and students will be expected to complete assigned projects throughout the course and time will be given each day for mandatory journaling. Students should expect to participate in group discussions and projects as well as individual tasks.

Students should be aware that they will be participating in outdoor physical activities and a moderate level of physical fitness will be necessary in order to participate fully and comfortably.

Selection into the program constitutes the awarding of a scholarship to the participant – no costs shall be incurred by the students.

Parental permission is mandatory for participation.

Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from Avalon Park. Transportation to offsite programs will be provided from Avalon Park to destination and back.

A selection committee will review all completed applications and a shortlist will be compiled. These applicants will be required to attend a brief interview with the selection committee after which final selections will be made. Selected participants will be notified by mail.


This component of the program will serve as an introduction to orienteering. Taught by Ed Hicks and Bob Burg of Orienteering Unlimited. Our goal is to teach students how to:

  • Read and interpret map symbols
  • How to orient the map to North
  • What to do when lost; how to use a safety bearing
  • How to follow linear land features, such as trails, roads and streams
  • How to relate the map to features on the ground
  • How to judge the distance between control locations
  • Gain self-confidence in map reading


The water skills component is a new addition to the program. Participants will spend four days, kayaking on local waterways, learning correct paddling technique, safety skills, hydrodynamics, map reading and trip planning.


Our trip takes us to one of our favorite hiking destinations. We will be heading to the White Mountains in New Hampshire where participants will spend our first two days working with Appalachian Mountain Club instructors learning Wilderness First Aid and CPR. The next three days will be spent hiking in the Presidential Range (with the possibility of climbing Mount Washington) staying in AMC huts along our route. Please note: this is not a walk in your local park or through the mall. The White Mountains are no joke. You will be spending 5-6 hours a day hiking over rocky terrain with some steep ascents and/or descents. While there is no technical hiking involved we strongly recommend participants have a good level of physical fitness. Your reward will be fantastic ridge views with some of the most spectacular views in the Northeast.

200 Harbor Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790 • 631-689-0619
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